2005 Menu Development Survey: Dishing it out

Many of the largest organizations in foodservice have revamped, overhauled or otherwise upgraded their menus in recent years.

Not just line cooks: The survey also delves into the area of staffing, in an attempt to gauge the level of expertise that exists in today’s non-commercial kitchens, and pinpoint what efforts are in place to train the culinary staff on an ongoing basis.

More than a quarter of all operations have an executive chef on staff, but that rises to more than half in higher education. In fact, higher education outpaces all segments in specialized staff such as sous chef and pastry chef, and is far ahead in placing someone in a culinary training capacity.

That type of training includes conferences and trade shows as the No.1 method, with a substantial amount of in-house training, and to a significant extent, sending staff for more extensive training than what they can receive at conferences, followed by visits to the operation from guest chefs or other experts. Also making a substantial showing is the staging of cooking competitions as a way to hone staff members’ culinary skills.

Scratching the surface: Another element of the survey looks at cooking methods non-commercial operators use in production. Most (92%) use scratch-cooking, a strong majority make use of prepared entrees (69%) or components (65%)in meal assembly, and about a third are involved with cook-chill.

The survey asked readers to rank a handful of methods or practices in terms of their productivity benefits. Nearly two-thirds of operators gave use of prepared products the highest scores, compared to other things that enhance productivity like online monitoring systems (43%), automated inventory (28%) and e-commerce (27%).

Many operators belong to larger organizations like school districts, hospital networks or other consortiums, so the survey took a quick look at central production activities. Results show that 30% of operators oversee a centralized food processing/meal preparation facility, and they support an average of seven sites.

In this area, the market’s getting a lot of industry support with respect to equipment and systems that allow a school district, for example, to downsize the amount of ovens, kettles and other items at each feeding site, and transform those sites into facilities that primarily retherm meals produced at the central facility.

School districts doing this are often able to use up the extra capacities of these central facilities on weekends or during the summer, to launch catering services or pick up other business in the local community.

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A foodservice conference in Kentucky held a student panel where students gave feedback on their school lunch program, Bowling Green Daily News reports.

The panel of students, who attend Warren East High School in Bowling Green, Ky., said that they would enjoy menu items such as smoothies made with natural ingredients, and a salad bar. Students also said they would like the option to dine in places other than the cafeteria, such as the library or outside.

Additionally, the students shared that phone calls, Snapchat and FaceTime were their favorite methods of communication...

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From Bush’s Best®.

Imitating restaurant trends has long been a way to increase participation in K-12 meal programs. As consumer drive for ethnic flavors continues to ramp up—it was named as a top trend by the National Restaurant Association earlier in 2018—it’s no surprise that school meal operators are looking to bring those qualities to the lunchroom. And ethnic inspiration isn’t the only restaurant trend popping up on school menus. Plant-forward cuisine and customizable options are also proliferating.

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Though consumers are interested in improving their food choices, they can be easily scared away by dishes that sound too healthy .

For instance, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , 30% of diners ages 18-34 said they would choose an indulgent menu item over a healthier one because they thought the indulgent item would taste better.

To diners, good tasting and good for you don’t usually go together. With that in mind, today’s chefs are meeting that challenge by marketing delicious, flavorful, indulgent dishes that also happen to be healthy....

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Students at Adobe Acres Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., have a new menu item this school year, KOB reports.

Named Delish, the dish includes hominy, corn and carnitas and is available on Wednesdays every three weeks this semester.

The recipe was developed in a partnership between the nutrition team and celebrity chefs Adrienne Cheatham and Jet Tila.

Read the full story via kob.com .

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